Binyam Mohamed’s case returns to UK High Court

October 10, 2008

Image of prisoners in Guantanamo

Leigh Day & Co. and Reprieve are back in the UK High Court next week, representing British resident Binyam Mohamed, who has been in US custody since July 2002, and in Guantánamo since September 2004.

Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd-Jones have set aside a week to hear legal argument on the question of whether the Government can claim Public Interest Immunity to deny Mr Mohamed’s lawyers access to evidence which the Judges previously held was “essential” to his defence against charges in the Guantanamo Military Commission Tribunals.

Following a week long hearing in July during which a secret service agent was cross examined, the judges ruled that the UK was mixed up in wrong doing and that the Foreign Secretary was under a duty to disclose 42 secret documents to Mr Mohamed’s lawyers. However, David Miliband then claimed Public Interest Immunity, arguing that releasing the documents against the will of the Americans would damage our relationship with the US and undermine the “war on terror”.

Miliband presented a Public Interest Immunity Certificate to the Court setting out why, in his view, the documents should not be disclosed. However, following a hearing in late August, the Judges ruled that Mr Miliband’s reasons were flawed because he had not given proper weight to the gravity of the torture and mistreatment of Mr Mohamed. Mr Miliband was given a second chance to reconsider his position and subsequently produced a second Certificate in early September.

The hearing also comes after recent developments in the US where a Federal Court Judge recently order the US Government to disclose evidence that would help Mr Mohamed’s defence. The US Government has now purported to comply with that Order but it was revealed earlier this week that only 7 of the 42 documents identified by the UK Court have been handed over.

The hearing next week will determine whether or not the Certificate should be upheld and Mr Mohamed denied the documents which are essential to his defence.

Leigh Day & Co. will be arguing that the balance of the public interest lies in disclosing the secret documents (on a confidential basis) to Mr Mohamed’s lawyers. They will also argue that the Court should provide a public account of what the documents show happened to Mr Mohamed after his illegal detention in Pakistan. The Court will be told that the public interest in exposing torture and illegality outweighs Mr Miliband’s objective of not offending the US Government.

The hearing is due to run for the whole of next week in the Royal Courts of Justice although the majority is likely to be held in closed sessions. It is likely that the open public elements of the hearing will take place on Monday 13 and Tuesday 14 October 2008.

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact:

  • Nisha Patel at the Leigh Day Press Office on 020 7650 1272
  • Andy Worthington at Reprieve’s Press Office on 020 7427 1099
  • Emails: npatel@leighday.co.uk or Andy@reprieve.org.uk.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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